There are around six million cases of elder abuse in the United States each year. Five states account for more than 1/3 of those cases. New York is one of the five states. A report released in 2013 identified five obstacles prosecutors faced in handling elder abuse cases, which was the impetus for new bill that would help victims of elder abuse testify against their abusers in criminal proceedings. The bill states that based on certain conditions, witnesses of advanced age will be able to be examined before a trial starts in order to preserve their testimony for future use in criminal court.
Current legislation only allows elders to be examined conditionally if they suffer from demonstrable physical illness or incapacity at the time of application; however this is useless in some cases. For example, a man in his 90’s who was a victim of theft by his home aide, but in good health for his age at the onset of his claim may be deceased before the case is presented to the Grand Jury. In the specific instance discussed in the article, the aid confessed to committing the crime which allowed the elder abuse case to be prosecuted. However if she had not confessed the DA would not have been able to prove its case.
The bill asks that attorneys be able to request the preservation of witness testimony that are advanced in age. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, the average American lives 77.8 years, the bill would define “advanced age” as 75 and older. Senator Gallivan also said that offenders should not be able to avoid punishment by delaying legal proceedings in hopes that the elder will pass before trial.
Senator Patrick Gallivan stated that our elder population is growing and we have a responsibility to protect our senior citizens from abuse, whether it is physical, mental, or psychological. He continued to say that this legislation will ensure that those who abuse and exploit the elderly will be held accountable for their actions. The bill has been sent to the New York State Assembly for review and consideration.
If you or a loved one has experienced elder abuse, contact the caring and experienced attorneys at Gallivan & Gallivan immediately to discuss your potential case.